Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Whole Wheat & Wheat Germ Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets
Adapted from Fitness Magazine
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut up into bite sized pieces
2 eggs, well beaten
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix dry ingredients and cheese together in a bowl.
3. Coat chicken with egg mixture and dredge in the crumb mixture until well coated.
4. Place breaded nuggets in baking dish and bake for approx 30 minutes without turning.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
When my plans one night fell through, Denise, a very close friend of mine, invited me over for an impromptu dinner party with several of her friends. Dinner (stuffed shells, yum) was tasty, but the star of the show was most certainly the cheesecake she had prepared for dessert.
I'm not much of a cheesecake fan myself, but this dense, rich cake carved a special little place in my heart for the (gasp!) non chocolate treat. This is a recipe that must be passed on to all of you cheesecake lovers out there!
From How to Bake
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 lbs (32 oz.) cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
1. Butter the bottom of one 9" springform pan and line with parchment paper
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set a rack on the middle level.
3. Prepare the crust: In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the yolk in until smooth.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and gently fold them into the butter mixture with a rubber spatula. This mixture will be crumbly.
5. Place the dough in the prepared pan and pat down evenly and firmly to cover the pan bottom. Bake 15-20 minutes until dough is golden and baked through. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
6. Prepare the filling: Using a paddle attachment at your mixer's lowest speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth (but no more than 30 seconds). Scrape down the bowl and beater. Add in the sugar in a stream, mixing for no more than 30 seconds. Stop and scrape. Add the vanilla, lemon juice and one egg. Mix only until absorbed, no more than 30 seconds. Stop and scrape. Add remaining eggs one at a time, again only mixing until each is absorbed. Stop and scrape after each addition.
7. Wrap aluminum foil around the bottom of the springform pan so it comes at least one inch up the sides. Pour the filling into the pan over the crust. Place the pan in a jelly-roll or roasting pan and pour warm water into the pan to a depth of 1/2 inch.
8. Bake the cheesecake for about 60 minutes, or until lightly colored and firm except for the very center. Remove from the pan of hot water.
9. Remove the foil and cool completely on a rack. Wrap the cheesecake in plastic or foil and chill overnight before unmolding.
Serving: Serve with sliced, sugared strawberries or raspberries if desired.
Storage: If you bake the cheesecake on the day you intend to serve it, keep it loosely covered at a cool room temperature after the cake has cooled. For longer storage, wrap in plastic and refrigerate up to several days. Bring the cheesecake to room temperature for an hour before serving.
P.S. Holding your dessert plate up to the light to take pictures in the middle of a dinner party will earn you funny looks and odd remarks.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I just can't get enough of a good banana bread. Seriously, you should know that I am absolutely weakened by the sight of browning bananas in the bowl on the counter coupled with the craving for a dense, gooey bread that's got some chocolate chips hiding for me. Weak! (And even weaker at allowing the bread to last more than a day or two before it has been polished off.)
And the best part of all? This bread is so easy that it's almost insulting. This recipe that I snagged from Orangette after being enticed by her mellifluous description, has baked in my oven so many times that it's just silly.
Banana Bread with Cinnamon Sugar Flake Crust
3 very ripe bananas
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Butter or spray 8" square pan and dust with a cinnamon/sugar mixture.
3. In a medium bowl, mash banana. Add eggs and stir well to combine.
4. Add flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla. Stir to mix.
5. Add chocolate chips and stir until just mixed in. Pour batter into prepared pan.
6. In a small bowl, stir the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the batter in the pan.
7. Top with a sprinkling of chocolate chips and bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
8. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I just wanted to post this real quick before I run off to bed. This is a cross section of the marbled cake I tried to make. You can see the odd gooey middle that has strange directional bubble shapes in it. And note the way the different flavors (chocolate and plain) acted differently and pushed themselves into different places. It shouldn't look like that at all. What gives?! It didn't taste bad, just weird and it wasn't at all what it was supposed to be.
Was this the buttermilk's fault? I didn't have any, so I consulted the internet which said I could make my own with milk and lemon juice (or vinegar, but I didn't have any white vinegar). Also, the oven was fluctuating within a 50+ degree range. Wonder if that had anything to do with it?
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Inspired by Chocolate Chipped's recipe for Chocolate Marshmallow Delight and driven to use up some stuff that's been taking up space in my cupboard, I made these yummy bars.
They're super simple to make. I had a leftover bag of mini marshmallows so I threw them in a pan. I had random bits of chocolate and white chocolate leftover from various other projects so I melted it all together, added the last few splashes of half and half that I needed to use up and poured the mixture over the mini marshmallows. I popped it in the oven at 300 degrees for about ten minutes. While it was still warm and gooey I dumped the remains of a bag of coconut shreds on the top and took a fork and stirred it all together. It got to cool off in the fridge before I cut it into bars.
I served these at my party and to coworkers and I was just pleased to have found a use for all of this leftover stuff that was sad, lonely and unused in my pantry. While it was too sweet for me, I'm sure if I had left out the white chocolate and used unsweetened coconut it would have been much more to my liking.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Sadly, playing bartender at my own cocktail party left me little time to do anything but tend the bar. I had a blast mixing drinks for everyone, but it means I didn't get any pictures of all of the different cocktails--some of which were quite pretty. (Also didn't get to mingle as much as I had hoped.)
While planning my party I decided on a few key cocktails that I would learn to make so I could offer people a variety of choices. Ultimately I settled on Appletinis, Lemon Drops, Cosmopolitans, and the Chocolate Martini. Turned out, the most popular cocktail of the evening was by far the chocolate martini. We completely ran out of everything to make them before the end (I really wouldn't have minded some leftovers...), but I was pleased that they were so very well received.
After doing my research on the chocolate martini, I learned that the concoctions that more closely resemble alcoholic chocolate milkshakes were really just missing the point. The original idea was that the chocolate martini looked just like any other martini and its secret wouldn't be revealed until it was tasted. Further research led us to the bar (and who am I to complain?) in which we discovered our favorite variations on this drink to take home and try for ourselves.
After playing around with it a bit on my own (martinis on a weeknight, wee!) I was pretty happy with the results. Unfortunately, the features that make my variation most appealing also blatantly distinguish it from a real martini, so perhaps I'm missing the point too. This drink doesn't turn out brown, but I think these are even more fun when they don't scream "chocolate." Especially fun with the chocolate sprinkles.
1 1/2 parts Creme de Cacao (clear, not dark)
1 part Vodka
1 part Kahlua
1/2 part Cream, half and half or milk (preferably 2%)
Combine with ice in a shaker. Shake well (to froth the cream) and strain into glass. Allow cream a few moments to rise to the top and sprinkle with some chocolate sprinkles. If you really must have the extra chocolate, drizzle a little chocolate sauce to the bottom or rim the glass with it and enjoy.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Last weekend I had a fancy cocktail party. We had perfect lounge music, mood lighting, a fully stocked cocktail bar and, of course, what is a party without delightful little finger food munchies?
Instead of taking pictures of all of the hors d'oeuvres I made for my cocktail party, I spent all of my pre-party time running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get everything done (and myself presentable after a day of cooking and cleaning). Not surprisingly, the party started and I was still not quite prepared. The kitchen the messiest I had ever seen it! The party, of course, ended with the messiest kitchen, but that's the sign of a really great party, right? Ha. Fortunately there were other people there to help me out, getting things set up and cleaned up as well. Thanks guys!
The tart shells were pretty easy to make, though they were moderately time consuming. The dough is a simple mixture of flour, butter and cream cheese that's rolled out in circles, stuffed into mini cupcake pans and baked. Fill 'em with whatever you want. That's the fun part! I must admit I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and so I made a quick-fix of boxed instant pudding to use, but with other cooks in the kitchen, things got scrambled around and I accidentally used the wrong custard! Oops!
Basic Tart Shells
from Better Homes and Gardens Treasury of Baking Recipes
1 lb butter
12 oz cream cheese
3 cups all-purpose flour
Cut butter and cream cheese into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You may find using your hands is the easiest way to do this. Gather dough into a ball, then divide into four equal balls. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or until needed. (It will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.) Each ball of dough will make one the pastry equivalent of one two-crust pie.
On a floured surface roll out dough until 1/8" thick. Cut to size. Be sure to poke holes around the sides and bottom to keep them from bubbling up while baking. Bake in 425 degree oven for 12 minutes or until golden.
*Notes: Since I made mini shells, I halved the recipe. Also, I reduced the oven temperature to 400 degrees and baked them for just about 8 minutes. I also made the dough a few weeks before the party. I rolled them out and formed them to shape by freezing them in the mini muffin pan. Then, once they were set, I popped them out of the muffin pan and froze them in a tupperware for storage. When it was time to bake them, I pulled them from the freezer, put them back into the muffin pan slots and slid them in the oven. This worked out very nicely.
Now, if I had just taken more pictures... but I had guests to attend to. :D